I'm fairly certain I learned this quote while doing my own NYS Regents Exam in ELA.

"Without struggle, there is no progress." - Fredrick Douglas

I also became a big fan of this one in adolescence, and resurfaced it during my first year(s) teaching.

"Yes it hurts when buds burst, there is a pain when something grows." - Karin Boye.

I'm thinking of these today because I may have shed tears over math homework yesterday. (Or.. you know.. just got something in my eye.. perhaps onions were being chopped nearby.. ) Anyways, while it's a little embarrassing to admit it, I got caught up in it. I find it is so frustrating working without seeing a result. The "check solution" step, when it's done and you know it's right -- that is the high I chase when doing math. And this problem has eluded me, so far.

(For those really curious, it's question 12 of chapter 2.4 from "Number Theory; A Lively Introduction with Proofs, Applications and Stories" by Pommersheim, Marks and Flapan.)

This post isn't about the problem, but the process. I've stuck with the problem, using multiple strategies and tools at my disposal for over a week. I've dreamt about this problem, and woke up thinking - I've got it! - to find that.. I hadn't.  I've reread the chapter more times than I can count. I've asked colleagues and friends. I've sent texts and emails. I've posted in the online class with questions. I've tried things.

And even today, after the assignment is due and I've turned in my best effort, I'm still stuck on this. I'm wondering too -- why am I so "stuck"? To be more positive -- what makes me so persistent? And.... how can I pass this onto my kids?

Another quote comes to me,

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. " Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I feel that "high" when I finish a problem. And what I love about (most) math, is that you can check it, or sometimes feel it, when you are right. It's not subjective. When you're right you're right. You've backed up your work with theorems and definitions and proofs. You've obeyed the laws and properties.  It feels good to be right.

Now how do I embed this in my teaching practice?


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